By Author Annette McCollough Myers
February 22, 2021
On a cold, wet, and dreary morning in February, I had moments of historical flashbacks as I sat at my breakfast table. My mind focused on some moments and events in life and what things were like back in the day. Many have been recorded and well-documented by me, present-day historians, and others before my time.
What comes to mind is my home church, New Zion Missionary Baptist Church, founded in 1870 and constructed in 1878. The history of this church is impressive. I try to envision workers tackling the daunting task of building the church and other such historic sites on the Island. These wonders are testaments to the tenacity and perseverance of the black community. All were built without the ease of modern-day technology and machinery. New Zion is located on Tenth Street and Atlantic Avenue, in Fernandina Beach’s historic district. One-hundred and forty-three years later, the church still stands as a beacon of light in our community.
My thoughts also stray to historic American Beach, where I live. I envisioned the chainsaws it took to cut down gigantic trees, the plows, and other equipment that made way for roadways and infrastructure, such as the historical well that would provide potable water in the community for years to come.
My first and second editions of The Shrinking Sands of an African American Beach are about saving and protecting this historic community’s heritage. Like other African-American coastal communities, American Beach is in danger of disappearing.
I often think of another historic site, the Peck High School building, my high school alma mater. The school was erected in 1927. It was located in the 500 block of South 11th Street. Peck High School has now became the Peck Center Complex. This building serves as an essential component of local African-American history and heritage. In 2010, the city of Fernandina Beach included Peck in the local historic district. My book entitled Peck High School – Golden Years Remembered gives a pictorial and historical account of Peck High School’s early years in Fernandina Beach and the significance of providing a high school education for African-American students. The former African-American school is a significant historic landmark founded in 1885 to educate African-American children in the community.
Still another historic site is my home, Martha’s Hideaway, on historic American Beach, when truckloads of coquina were hauled from the ocean shore and brought on-site to mold and bake concrete blocks and bricks for construction. On October 12, 2001, Martha’s Hideaway was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
I also think about the many topics I once covered in writing for the Christian Reader of Daytona from 2001 to 2005 under the owner and publisher Darryl Barrs, some of which included Historic Preservation of Black Churches on Amelia Island and Blacks In Business.
Other documented historical African-American accounts have included The Big Sand Dune and the Beach Lady. This publication is about, MaVynee the Beach Lady, the great-granddaughter of Abraham Lincoln (A.L.) Lewis, under whose leadership American Beach was founded in 1935. Historic American Beach is located on the south end of Amelia Island. The book also encourages reading among school-aged children and others to learn about local, state, and national African-American history.
The month of February is a time to reflect, highlight and celebrate African-American history and culture. It is also a time to pay tribute to those who have helped bring us through hardships and challenging times.
Today, we can look upon the many accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans locally and nationwide. The preservation of historic buildings and places also helps to define our communities and who we are.
All history should not be lost as it connects us to times, places, and events in our lives.
About Annette McCollough Myers:
National Indie Award-Winning Author
Former teacher, guidance counselor, historian, and community activist who lives in American Beach, Fernandina Beach, FL
Books currently available by the Author
PECK High School – Golden Years Remembered – 2nd Edition
Black history month Special $25.00 including Tax and Free Shipping through March 31 from the author at [email protected] (Originally $29.95)
Delaney’s Adventures – With Friends
Special through March 31st – $16.99 + Tax. Free Shipping from the author (Originally $16.99)
Delaney’s Adventures – With Friends by Delaney Ann Myers and grandmother, Annette McCollough Myers. Delaney’s Adventures is a colorful, easy reading picture book aimed at young to middle-school-aged children that encourages reading, the use of vocabulary words, and much more. Delaney Ann Myers is a fourth-grade African-American student at Jacob G. Smith Elementary School in Savannah, Georgia.
Both books are published by Giro Di Mondo(GMD) Publishing – AVAILABLE THROUGH AMAZON, GMD PUBLISHING, LOCAL BOOKSTORES or [email protected]